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Income Streams for Musicians

My friend and Berkleemusic student David Sherbow posted this list of income streams on his blog and it got picked up by Hypebot as well.  This is a pretty comprehensive list of the different ways that musicians can make money.

The artist music business model has been in flux for years. The record deal dream that most artists sought is no longer the viable alternative that it once was.  The leveling of the music distribution playing field by the Internet is virtually complete.  Terrestrial radio is on a path towards destruction that even the major labels can’t compete with.  People now access and download music from multiple sources, usually for free.  D.I. Y solutions are everywhere, but for many artists hard to integrate into their daily lives.

Where does this leave the average independent artist? At the beginning. Every artist wants to know how they can make music, make money and survive to write and play another day. Here, in no particular order, is a list of possible income streams.

• Publishing
• Mechanical royalties
• Performance Royalties from ASCAP and BMI
• Digital Performance Royalties from Sound Exchange
• Synch rights TV, Commercials, Movies, Video Games
• Digital sales – Individual or by combination
• Music (studio & live) Album – Physical & Digital, Single – Digital, • Ringtone, Ringback, Podcasts
• Instant Post Gig Live Recording via download, mobile streaming or flash drives
• Video – Live, concept, personal,  – Physical & Digital
• Video and Internet Games featuring or about the artist
• Photographs
• Graphics and art work, screen savers, wall paper
• Lyrics
• Sheet music
• Compilations
• Merchandise – Clothes, USB packs, Posters, other things
• Live Performances
• Live Show – Gig
• Live Show – After Party
• Meet and Greet
• Personal Appearance
• Studio Session Work
• Sponsorships, and endorsements
• Advertising
• Artist newsletter emails
• Artist marketing and promotion materials
• Blog/Website
• Videos
• Music Player
• Fan Clubs
• YouTube Subscription channel for more popular artists
• Artist programmed internet radio station or specialty playlist.
• Financial Contributions of Support – Tip Jar or direct donations, Sellaband or Kickstarter
• Patronage Model – Artist Fan Exclusives – e.g. paying to sing on a song in studio or have artist write a song for you
• Mobile Apps
• Artist Specific Revenue Stream –  unique streams customized to the specific artist, e.g Amanda Palmer
• Music Teaching – Lessons and Workshops
• Music Employment – orchestras, etc, choir directors, ministers of music, etc.
• Music Production – Studio and Live
• Any job available to survive and keep making music
• Getting Help From Other Artists and Helping Them –  Whatever goes around come around. – e.g. gig swapping, songwriting, marketing and promotion

We Welcome Your Comments

Comments

12 replies
  1. Arnie says:

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] If there’s anything that has become abundantly clear in the music world, it’s that it’s hard to survive on one source of income. If you’re still looking to your CD or digital sales to pay your rent, you might be waiting a very long time indeed. No, in this day and age, there are many different ways of generating an income stream as a musician. […]

  2. […] If there’s anything that has become abundantly clear in the music world, it’s that it’s hard to survive on one source of income. If you’re still looking to your CD or digital sales to pay your rent, you might be waiting a very long time indeed. No, in this day and age, there are many different ways of generating an income stream as a musician. […]

  3. […] The recording industry has seen a change in economic structure from Oligopolistic competition (The 4 big labels) into monopolistic competition, where there are many, much more equal, lower turnover recording labels, studios and artists. This means that the barriers to entry (that elusive record deal we all used to strive for) are lowered and the audience (consumer) decides based on exposure. The music industry is an exception to typical economic structures as there are no substitute goods – if you like one band and another band that you don’t like is cheaper to buy, you will not buy the lower priced band instead. We have seen that audiences instead find cheaper ways of attaining the same product such as the well publicised Napster or more recently Pirate Bay. It is the development of the artist’s fan base that is key in creating any income stream and the consideration of the economics of abundance – use the .mp3s and illegal downloads purely as a marketing sunk cost in the development of a fanbase in order that brand recognition can focus your audience on scarce resources you can then charge for: live events, merch, publishing, etc. More about income streams for artists can be found at Dave Kusek’s Income Streams for Musicians. […]

  4. […] The recording industry has seen a change in economic structure from Oligopolistic competition (The 4 big labels) into monopolistic competition, where there are many, much more equal, lower turnover recording labels, studios and artists. This means that the barriers to entry (that elusive record deal we all used to strive for) are lowered and the audience (consumer) decides based on exposure. The music industry is an exception to typical economic structures as there are no substitute goods – if you like one band and another band that you don’t like is cheaper to buy, you will not buy the lower priced band instead. We have seen that audiences instead find cheaper ways of attaining the same product such as the well publicised Napster or more recently Pirate Bay. It is the development of the artist’s fan base that is key in creating any income stream and the consideration of the economics of abundance – use the .mp3s and illegal downloads purely as a marketing sunk cost in the development of a fanbase in order that brand recognition can focus your audience on scarce resources you can then charge for: live events, merch, publishing, etc. More about income streams for artists can be found at Dave Kusek’s Income Streams for Musicians. […]

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  7. […] Came across a great article in the Future Of Music blog that I just had to share with you all. Daily I get calls or visits from upcoming artists who […]

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